Intel wants to build a new semiconductor manufacturing plant in Magdeburg. Inquiries and information from local politicians have now revealed that the factory will require more electricity than the entire rest of the city even in the first stage of expansion.
More energy than the city
Former Magdeburg mayor Lutz Trümper told Politico magazine, which first reported on the issue, about the enormous energy requirements of the planned Intel factory. In addition to Trümper, Madeleine Linke, co-chairwoman of the city council’s Green and local Future! party, also commented. While Trümper stated that in the first stage of expansion, the factory’s electricity requirements exceed those of the city of Magdeburg, Linke stated that in the full expansion stage, the requirements would even be three times the current city requirements.
A look at the supply report of the municipal utility makes this much clearer. The municipal utility supplies around 90 percent of private households in Magdeburg and sold almost 1,500 GWh of electrical energy last year. Intel’s factory is therefore likely to consume more than 1,500 GWh even in the initial expansion stage, and to be at a consumption of around 4,500 GWh at full build-out. The annual average power consumption of the city as a whole is currently around 171 MW. A comparison with other large factories shows that this is not an unrealistic value for the consumption of the semiconductor factory: Tesla has a connected load of 109 MW in Grünheide. Intel’s energy consumption would again noticeably exceed that of Tesla, which is due to the type of semiconductors manufactured. For example, particularly small structure sizes are to be manufactured in Magdeburg, which is generally particularly power-intensive.
Coverage via renewable energies?
Intel has already announced that it wants to cover the power requirements of its factory in Magdeburg exclusively via renewable energies. This is certainly possible, but would presumably require a significant expansion of renewable energies in Germany. If Intel were to rely entirely on solar power, for example, three percent of the solar power produced in Germany alone would be gobbled up by the factory – and things don’t look much better for other renewable energies.
Overall, the example of Intel’s semiconductor factory illustrates the problems of industrialization: Resources are being gobbled up at a high rate, even though they are scarce. If fossil energy sources are used, every industrialization step means an exploitation of limited resources; if renewable energies are used, a considerable burden is placed on the supply – and thus possibly further price increases. Quite similar problems had also arisen during the construction of the Tesla factory in Grünheide. There, among other things, the enormous water consumption of the factory had been criticized.